Dominique Dawes has once again made history by becoming the first gymnast to be inducted into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame.
Silver Spring native “Awesome Dawesome” achieved a historic milestone as the first African-American gymnast to qualify for and compete in the Olympics. She garnered 15 U.S. Championships from 1991 to 1996 and further cemented her legacy in 1996 by becoming the first African-American to earn an individual medal in Olympic gymnastics, securing a bronze medal in the floor exercises. Dawes, a three-time Olympian, was a member of the “Magnificent Seven,” the trailblazing American team that clinched gold in women’s gymnastics at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta (video below).
Following her retirement after the Sydney Games in 2000, where she won team bronze, she graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2002. Her other endeavors include appearing on Broadway in a revival of “Grease” and Prince’s “Betcha by Golly Wow!” music video, as well as advocating for young women in sports.
Dawes served as president of the Women’s Sports Federation from 2004 to 2006. President Obama appointed her to co-chair the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition alongside NFL quarterback Drew Brees in 2010. In 2020, she opened the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics & Ninja Academy, with locations in Clarksburg and Rockville. The academy aims to create a healthy and nurturing environment for all children, including her four children, two of whom are twins. Dawes has been a member of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame since 2009 and was inducted into the USA Olympic Hall of Fame with the Magnificent Seven in 2008.
On Saturday, Dawes revealed on Instagram her plans to open another branch of her eponymous Gymnastics & Ninja Academy in the Baltimore region:
“I am proud and humbled to share my induction into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame, which comes after 18 years of sacrifice, hard work and dedication to the sport of gymnastics. It’s been a long and rewarding journey that began when I qualified for the 1992 Olympics at the Baltimore Arena and this past week to be inducted in the Hall of Fame in the Baltimore region was a full circle moment for me. Today, the journey is much sweeter with my family by my side. I’m proud to be an owner and founder of the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics & Ninja Academies in Rockville and Clarksburg, MD and I look forward to bringing to the Academy to the Baltimore region. Look out, B’more we plan to empower and nurture athletes in your area soon enough.”
A larger-than-life sculpture of Dawes has been commissioned for the Montgomery County Sports Hall of Fame at the Silver Spring Recreation and Aquatic Center, which is expected to open in downtown Silver Spring next year.
Photo Courtesy of the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics & Ninja Academy